Animal lovers transitioning from middle grade to YA will find a lot to enjoy here.

KAT WOLFE TAKES THE CASE

From the Wolfe and Lamb Mysteries series , Vol. 2

Kid detectives find themselves mixed up in 10 interconnected mysteries.

Native Briton Kat Wolfe and her American friend, Harper Lamb, daughters of a veterinarian and a paleontologist, respectively, feel fully equipped to take on a mystery or two—after all, they’ve done it before (Kat Wolfe Investigates, 2018). But this new one proves to be a little more complicated—they count at least 10, many pertaining to endangered and extinct (and maybe fantastical) creatures, from bluefin tunas to dinosaurs. Is the new fossil unearthed in their Dorset, England, town a dinosaur or a dragon? Why are two Hollywood stars interested in it, and why won’t they pay Kat for all the petsitting she’s doing for their Pomeranian? What might Kat’s grandfather, Britain’s minister of defense, have to do with it all? Amazingly, all 10 mysteries do intertwine, though it takes some extraordinary strokes of luck along with Kat’s commendable sleuthing skills. St John makes some missteps with the American characters, using a lot more British language patterns and words than seems plausible for people who didn’t grow up there. Adult characters are silly enough that the kids get to be the heroes of the story, but they’re not so buffoonish that they’ll insult the intelligence of the characters or readers. Kat presents white while brown-skinned Harper is of Cuban descent, and their community reflects a vigorously diverse England.

Animal lovers transitioning from middle grade to YA will find a lot to enjoy here. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30961-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Rescues and kittens by the carload, with a bit of inner growth on the side.

BASTILLE VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS

From the Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series , Vol. 6

Previous prognostications of failure and doom notwithstanding, this bustling entry features miraculous survivals and just deserts for the biblio-baddies.

Switching narrators in the wake of devastating deeds at the end of The Dark Talent (2016), the co-authors pick up the action with stern, stab-happy Bastille describing her rescue of traumatized Alcatraz Smedry from a Library of Congress that is filling up with lava, then a desperate effort to keep ultra-evil librarian Biblioden the Scrivener from forcing the world’s remaining Free Kingdoms to check themselves out permanently. Despite her own forewarnings of a disastrous ending and stern suggestion to start with Volume 1 for the backstory, she does fill in enough of what’s going on for readers to keep pace—and in characteristically take-no-prisoners tones, lays out a rip-roaring tale in which she fulfills her role as Alcatraz’s protector with plenty of brisk (if bloodless) sword work and an unshakeable loyalty that, along with the occasional punch, draws him out of a paralyzing slough of guilt and self-loathing. A climactic battle features a horde of bloodthirsty kittens and a ravenous, punning monster—followed by hints that surviving librarians may be taking up worthier missions and, since Bastille insists on the veracity of this account, credible reasons why people the world around have talents for being late, breaking things, and like peccadillos. Most of the heroically posed figures in Lazo’s realistically modeled illustrations are light-skinned.

Rescues and kittens by the carload, with a bit of inner growth on the side. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-25-081106-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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